Coronavirus pandemic 2020-2021

What is Covid-19?

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. 

Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. 

The Covid-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.5

How is the pandemic affecting women and girls?

As is the case in almost all disasters and emergency situations, women have been hardest hit by the pandemic.  

Often being the primary caregivers for children, the sick and the elderly, they are most likely to be exposed to the virus.  

They are also more likely to work in insecure, informal jobs – the first to be cut in a crisis. 

Meanwhile, the pandemic has unleashed a surge in violence against women and girls across the world, made worse by being locked down or quarantined at home, with little or no access to life-saving services and support networks. 

Due to the closure of schools, girls have been put at greater risk of experiencing violence at home – even leading to increases in teenage pregnancies. 

ActionAid’s response to the pandemic so far

In April 2020, ActionAid declared an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our six-month global response aimed to support close to 15 million people across 40 countries, particularly women and girls and marginalised groups.  

Our priorities were the prevention and containment of Covid-19; protection of women and girls; and providing urgent aid including food and water

As in all emergencies, we have put into action our women-led, localised response to the pandemic: promoting women's leadership, ensuring women are empowered to make decisions about the needs of their community, and amplifying the voices and representation of women in humanitarian decision-making spaces. 

As of April 2021, we have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in 40 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. 

We have reached over 21 million people with our life-saving support: delivering food supplies, distributing essentials like soap and water, funding women’s shelters and combating the spread of misinformation with awareness-raising projects like local radio broadcasts. 

This includes: 

  • 4,002,986 people reached with food support, including food parcels 
  • 2,630,377 people reached with WASH/hygiene support 
  • 52,879 people who received cash support. 

What you can do to help

We urgently need your help to reach people affected by coronavirus in vulnerable communities, including in countries facing devastating second waves, like India

If you donate £30 you could help provide six families with enough soap for a month, helping them protect against themselves against Covid-19 as it tears through communities. Please donate today

Donate now

What to do if you think you have coronavirus

If you are in the UK, and you or anyone you know may have the coronavirus, there are services that can help. 

NHS advice about coronavirus

The National Health Service (NHS) provides advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), including what to do if you think you have it and how to reduce your chances of getting it.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service.

What are the number of coronavirus cases and risk in the UK?

The current situation is ever-evolving but you can find the latest information on the UK government's website.

 

Footnotes

  • 1https://covid19.who.int/
  • 2https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/goal-01/
  • 3https://covid19.who.int/
  • 4https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html
  • 5https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1

Top photo: ActionAid staff members in Nepal are working in their communities delivering quarantine kits containing soap, sanitiser, thermometer and mask. Credit: Sabin Shrestha/ActionAid

Page updated 6 July 2021